by Bob Weinstein
June 25, 2004
Dear Mr. Planchon:
I am in receipt of your June 22, 2004 letter responding to my June 16, 2004 letter expressing concern about the failure of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office to provide the community of Ketchikan with any meaningful information about proposed timber sales in this area.
I find your letter to be unresponsive to concerns expressed in my letter as well as disingenuous in several respects. My original letter did not question previous Trust timber sales, most of which have occurred in non-urban settings, or their technical adherence to regulations which have nothing to do with most of the issues I raised in my letter. I was rather calling into question your office's unwillingness to share information prior to the execution of a contract for a timber harvest in Ketchikan which might, among other things, have adverse impacts upon neighborhood property values and other economic sectors in Ketchikan.
I find particularly disingenuous your statement that "specific information will not be available to share until the sale offering process has been completed and a timber sale contract awarded (my emphasis)." I believe that you are fully aware that, once a timber contract has been awarded, it will be difficult if not impossible to change the terms of the contract regardless of potential adverse impacts of the sale on Ketchikan. It seems to me that you could: (1) select a preferred timber harvest contractor and plan; (2) review specific information with the public in Ketchikan PRIOR to the award of a contract; and (3) make appropriate modifications to the proposed harvest plan based upon reasonable concerns, if any.
Your continuing failure to agree to this mystifies me. It is difficult to tell from your letter if you are simply refusing to provide specific information until after the sale offering process is completed or if such information is not available until that time. Assuming it is the latter, reason and common sense suggest that my concerns could be addressed by sharing specific information with the community after more progress occurs on the sale offering process but prior to the award of a timber sale contract.
Once again, I am officially requesting that no timber sale contract be awarded for a harvest in Ketchikan until the public has had an opportunity to comment. I should note that a successful timber harvest is likely to require the cooperation of local government, including the City. Your refusal to consider the City's request to share information in a timely manner is likely to make it difficult for the City to extend such cooperation.
cc: Governor Frank Murkowski
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